The idea began with an article in local mag 1859, when I read about a half-day scenic float on the Rogue…class II’s, taking out at what appeared to be an idyllic lodge (Morrison’s) on the river, downstream of Gallice and not too far from Grants Pass. Only about three and a half hours out of Bend, I could paddle along with the commercial raft trip on my SUP…right? Better invite my sis who likes to get her adventure on…so that would round out the fun. Mmmm well, my sis and I DID have fun and adventure in southern Oregon, but it didn’t go quite so simply.
Once I got the confirmation from my sister I started making plans. Apparently commercial raft outfitters will allow IK’s on their trips but not SUPs. Okee dokee. How can I make this happen? (because I’m super safety conscious about not running whitewater alone–especially a river I’m unfamiliar with). Was hoping to find a local friend, or friend-of-a-friend to go with me. No go!! Finally, made arrangements with Sundance Kayak School who agreed to take me down, at the private lesson rate. The logistics weren’t easy, as it was hard to get connected, but we figured it all out via a combination of email, text and random calls from a woman helping out. I understand all this…don’t get me wrong…with a small seasonal business, that’s how it goes. Once I got my paddle excursion set, it was time to consider the rest. We ended up choosing Wolf Creek Inn & Tavern–the oldest continuously running lodge in Oregon, on the lesser known “Applegate Trail” (another route to Oregon versus the well-known Lewis & Clark Oregon Trail). Yay!! Adventure AND history. Good stuff.
I left Bend early thinking I’d hike along the way but a rare August full-day storm jinxed those plans. That’s ok…earlier to the lodge and dinner which was reputed to be next level (it was). Simply hanging with my sister is fun. We “get” each other. The first full day was great. I had some time before my paddle so I hiked the Graves Creek trail (which originates at the put-in for the Wild & Scenic section on the Rogue river). It was gorgeous and aside from poison oak being what appeared to be the primary ground cover, I’d recommend highly. Side note, I didn’t catch it.
Met with Steve, my co-hort and guide for the SUP paddle from Gallice to Alemeda–a lot shorter run than I’d anticipated. The Rogue is comprised of flat water and pool drops which meant I really didn’t get to run a whole bunch of rapids, but Steve was nice and the wildlife was cool. We saw heron, osprey, kingfishers, a bald eagle and a beaver! However, when we finished it was early and I wanted to run more rapids. Talked Steve into hiking back up to run the final (and most fun) rapids again. He was a good sport and went along with it. This wasn’t a small ask, as we literally had to hike our gear through thigh-high rapids and current. Me, with my board and he with his whitewater kayak. I was determined.
With the paddling done, I returned to the lodge where my sister and I met and drove to Grants Pass. Having never spent time there, I was delighted by what seems to be a “quaint” town. Parking at the edge of downtown, we noticed cute bear statues…one by one. Turns out, in an effort to raise money for the arts, Grants Pass created “Bear Fest” which calls out to local artists to make statues and fund raise. For my sister and I, it was a new goal…to take as many pictures with these delightful statues. We saw 15…there are over 80. Grants Pass might be cute, but apparently not much for nightlife, with shops closing at 4pm, so we made our way back to the Inn where we had another great dinner and turned in early.
The last full day we filled with a rafting adventure, guided by Morrison’s Lodge Outfitters. It began with an outstanding lunch followed by the typical safety talk. We launched from Morrison’s back lawn, paddling the same stretch I’d SUP’ed the day before but continued downstream with the rapid “Argo” as the grand finale. It was great fun and our guide personable and unique–the kid is learning five musical instruments including the bagpipes and concertina which normally I’d consider “guide bullshit” but I’ve known that kind of talk for decades now and he’s legit.
Everyone kept talking about “Argo” and after awhile I was feeling tentative. Why would such a big rapid, be on what’s advertised as a “splash and giggle” run?! All I’ll say is, there are a few moves in the run and it’s clearly more technical than what we’d paddled upstream. I also know that things could go sideways (literally) very fast. However, after the hype, I thought we still had the meat of the rapid to go when we were done. No one swam, no problems, and rafting that second day made our trip. We were glad to have joined.
That just about wrapped up our adventure with the exception of a wonderful meal, complete with homemade marionberry pie ala mode and ribs that rivaled any I’ve ever had. It was a perfect balance of sister time, goofiness, river time and exploring the area. I’m always encouraging the balance, so get out there and get you some!! Try something new. Rediscover something old. Just do something.
Thanks for listening…